Sensationalism or Responsible Journalism?
When the News Becomes News, Television Censors Self in France
I read an article in my local paper, the San Antonio Express News, this weeked written by Elanie Ganley, an AP writer, that talks about news coverage of the riots in France.
Ganley reported that:
“At least two television stations scaled back broadcasting images of flaming vehicles — a mainstay of coverage — to avoid stoking violence. Some channels decided not to provide daily police figures on the number of cars burned overnight.”
It seems the vandals had been competing with other cities for the most cars burned in one night — using the daily counts on tv and in newspapers as benchmarks of their success.
The decision followed a series of phone calls to the station (LCI), apparently from the troublemakers, asking “Why haven't you sent cameras?” The questions came after TV crews who were stoned by gangs started staying away from trouble spots, said LCI weekend editor Laurent Drezner.
Some stations also started reporting the total number of cars burned instead of by city, and stopped showing the cars on fire, which makes for pretty dramatic video.
Some are questioning if the change in coverage amounts to self-censorship and if it will lead to “all out” censorship.
I say this is just responsible journalism. Once you become a part of the story, I think a line has been crossed. I also believe that the press must resist a herd mentality to protect certain politicians or ideals. But, when you find that your coverage is leading to more violence, it should be ok to modify your approach!
It seems the french public has what they need, they know how much damage has been done and they know what the aftermath looks like (burned out cars). Do they really need to see the fire too?